Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Silent Floor Show; If Tenants Want Wooden Floors, Landlords Should Consider the Neighbours and Put in Soundproofing

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Silent Floor Show; If Tenants Want Wooden Floors, Landlords Should Consider the Neighbours and Put in Soundproofing

Article excerpt

Byline: NICOLA VENNING

NOWADAYS, if you want to let a flat, it must have a gleaming, ideally oak (not laminate), wooden floor.

Since 2001, when the lettings market slowed and competition for tenants increased, landlords have been pulling up carpets and putting down wooden floors faster than you can say " polish". Four years ago, a third of the homes that John D Wood had on its books to let in Richmond had wood floors; now the figure is more than 80 per cent.

"The majority of our market tends to be overseas American, Swedish and Japanese tenants who are very used to wood floors and 'clean living'," says Amy Johnson, head of lettings with John D Wood. "Now if they go into a home with too much carpet, they start sneezing."

However, although wooden floors might be heavenly for tenants, they can be hell for the neighbour living below. Walking on carpet with underlay is 22 decibels quieter than walking on wood, and walking on concrete is 34 decibels quieter. Last year, environmental health officers received 40,000 complaints about "impact noise" arising from wooden floors. Not surprisingly, some buildings are carpet- only zones.

" There is one block nearby, Hillbrow, which does not allow wooden floors," says Johnson .

"The flats would look better with wooden floors but it is not allowed."

If you are considering laying down a wooden floor, you should first check your head lease, which is usually kept by the management company of the block or the freeholder, and then consider your neighbours: will the floors be soundinsulated, or will downstairs be able to hear a pin drop?

Landlord Jerry O'Neill, 40, a software engineer, owns a one- bedroom Victorian conversion in East Twickenham to let through John D Wood.

When refurbishing the property two years ago, he decided to replace the tatty carpet with a wooden floor.

"The lease specified carpet or equivalent soundproofing," explains O'Neill.

"My [downstairs] neighbour and the freeholder were fine with a wooden floor, providing I could prove that the product I was going to use would be a more effective sound barrier than carpet. …

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